BoardCAD + FreeCAD

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    Hi there,

    Just thinking out loud… BoardCAD allows you to easily design a standard surfboard, but not much more than that. FreeCAD ( on the other hand allows you to design almost anything, but modeling a surfboard in FreeCAD is extremely difficult. Both programs are open source, so what if we combined those into something that is both easy to use and without any restrictions on what you can do?

    The idea is not new. A few years ago I looked at the possibility to integrate BoardCAD with open CASCADE (, which is the CAD kernel used by FreeCAD, but it was pretty complex. FreeCAD would give us both easy access to the open CASCADE kernel through Python scripts, and for some parts also directly through their GUI (if we use it). FreeCAD can be used both a module to access the CAD kernel and as a complete application, so we can choose either to keep our existing GUI or to customize their GUI and give it more of a BoardCAD look and feel.

    What I’m after is being able to use features like boolean operations in BoardCAD without having to write the code for it…


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    I think, integration in a more compatible 3D engine is allways an EXCELENT IDEA.

    In my usual work with boardcad i use to export STL and use it in rhinoceros 3D and grasshoper. As you know, work with STL in a any 3D software is a total nightmare.

    In my opinion, would be a very good idea export the board models in cleaner format, like NURBS or other some look like format.



    That is interesting

    solids boolean ops are definitely very interesting and useful to a rather small amount of designs; but that doesn’t make it less appealing.

    The main single design restriction remains the fact that BC cannot edit the Rail Rocker independent from the Stringer rocker.. That is a must. And I have to say BC does not do a good job interpolating between slices. Maybe some think so, I don’t and I can prove it.

    The existing Nurbs editing is just not usable… nearly impossible to design with it. I tried and failed.

    IMO BC needs to have bezier control points for editing curves; It works great and is the industry standard. Perhaps also “Bspline” control points if that makes sense; I like those too; and they could prove good as they keep the curves curvature continuous.

    The Board Object needs to have a more definition.. more editable curves defining the surfaces.

    My 2 cents…

    And I would prefer to keep the current look and feel and add new functionality on top.




    Olá Chico,

    Thanks for your input. I know you have wished for this before, and this time I think I’ll take your advise and remove the nurbs editing and instead make room for a more advanced set of Bezier curves.

    The single most asked-for-feature in BoardCAD over the last few years has been support for Shape3D X-files, and both boolean operations and independent rail rocker are necessary before we can implement that.

    For the GUI I’m currently considering a third option, which is to rewrite BoardCAD as a web application. This would facilitate deployment and also make it possible to use BoardCAD on mobile devices.




    Dear Jonas,

    WOW it sounds like it would be a lot of work… I hope not too much.

    Are you planning to put it on github? I would like to follow the development, please let me know… can u setup the developers forum private again? I think it is public.

    Are you actually considering a full rewrite?




    Yes, full rewrite in python and javascript :-).




    Can I suggest a OpenSCAD routine to take:
    cross sections,

    and LOFT into a board?

    In theory the only additional information to add from a selection of .svg files would be the position of each cross section on the profile.

    I expect lofting from imported 2D has been done before in OpenSCAD. I expect also that aligning cross-sections with the profile has been done before too so this could be relatively easy for someone who knows OpenSCAD?

    I suggest .SVG over .DXF as it seems to be a format easier to work with for a few reasons.
    I also suggest taking the opportunity to go true spline rather than polyline.

    I’d like to do it myself but I’d have a lot to learn. If anybody wants to have a go, or finds anything relevant on the OpenSCAD side, post here. I’ll have a look later when I get some free time.

    It could be an elegant solution. And an open, easy to discuss and modify solution. And a true parasolid model at the end of it potentially. I’m interested in this so I can design much more detail than a straight CNC’ed surfboard blank.

    As an aside, for a long time I tried to work in 3D from the start but everything went a lot simpler when I started thinking of generating 3D from 2D.

    Great idea bro!

    edit: wasn’t going to look at this now but the more I think about it the more I like it.
    Found that actually OpenSCAD prefers DXF to SVG… which is odd and a shame. But:
    So boardCAD can retain it’s use for design and then export a spline as DXF. I had trouble with spline though – it wouldn’t import into anything but polyline was OK…?

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by  jago25_98. Reason: didn't want to bump


    Thanks for the suggestion! I didn’t know about OpenSCAD. It seems like an interesting project, but it doesn’t have a complete CAD-kernel. I want the CAD-kernel to produce real nurbs surfaces and to be able to export them using STEP/IGES and not just STL.




    Ok, so far I’ve managed to create a simple webservice in Python that makes it possible to access FreeCAD through a websocket.

    I’ve also added websocket support in the original Java project, so that we initially can keep the current GUI and concentrate on the server part.


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